Yuval David is an acclaimed actor, host, and filmmaker. He has appeared in multiple TV series, including 100 episodes of ABC’s hidden-camera primetime show, ‘What Would You Do?’ CBS’ ‘Madam Secretary’ ‘The Michael J. Fox Show,’ and the HBO miniseries ‘The Plot Against America.’ He’s also appeared in, as well as produced, various award-winning films, and is the creator of various web series, all aimed at entertaining, uplifting, and inspiring others.
Yuval’s inherent gift for bringing extraordinary characters and complex narratives to life doesn’t reside exclusively as an actor or host in front of the camera. As an acclaimed filmmaker, Yuval produces, directs, and writes films, episodic-series, and documentaries. He lives by his filmmaking mantra to consistently create compelling content.
As the award-winning filmmaker behind films like “The BetaLoop” and “House of Fury,” his work has earned him a plethora of awards and recognition, including Audience Awards, and awards for ‘Best Director,’ ‘Best Special FX,’ and ‘Best Sound Design.’ His mountain of original content, including web series, short films, and documentaries continues to equally inspire, empower and move others. This is seen across his original content, whether it’s “One Actor Short,” which invites those who have never acted to be the stars of a short film; his ‘Better World’ series, which queries people on the street, asking them to share what they are doing to help improve the world around them; or ‘Pranks of Kindness,’ flipping the paradigm of performing pranks at someone else’s expense on its head by surprising people with feel-good pranks.
If you live in New York, or have visited the city, chances are you have seen him traversing Manhattan’s streets, microphone in hand, with film crew in tow, conducting ‘Man on the Street’ interviews with a diverse cross-section of humanity, and in some cases, playing pranks on them, in public areas of the city.
All of Yuval’s content is aimed at making people feel good, both those on and off camera, and promoting social good through art, something he speaks about on panels and through keynote speeches around the world. Yuval’s approach is focused on empowering others. Throughout his span of creative and advocacy work, which focuses on identity, gender, creativity, social and environmental consciousness (including LGBTQ+, Jewish and Israeli, humanitarian, and arts and cultural organizations and causes), Yuval seeks to invite others in through inclusivity, allowing them to join on the journey, and impart a message of becoming more improved versions of themselves.
Yuval also creates content about environmental and societal issues, creatively exploring the documentary format and how to have social impact through an artistic film format.
Hi Yuval, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
While I would normally answer with “amazing,” “fabulous,” or another spirited adjective, we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic…so, I will answer that I am doing as well as possible during this world-wide crisis.
How were you initially drawn into the world of acting?
Acting has been a passion and interest of mine since I was a child. I knew that was what I wanted to do since the first experiences I had witnessing storytellers and performers. Eventually, I started creating performances, sharing stories, and gaining acting training. That led me to begin a professional acting career as a teenager.
The world of acting enchanted me. It provided a platform for me to explore the art of expression and to express myself with more freedom and playfulness. It provided a way for me to explore humanity and further understand the human experience. It continues to do all of this to this day. And, it has consistently made me a better person, connecting to my sensitivity, strength, awareness, and openness.
That is what drew me into the world of acting and what continues to draw me into the world of acting.
Has this always been your main passion or have you always treated it as a component of a major artistic endeavor?
Acting has always been my main passion. It is the art of representing humanity, the human condition, and life stories through specific character perspectives. Being an actor has always provided me with a safe space to create and be creative, to express myself and discover myself as I express and discover the characters I play. Through playing these characters I learn more about myself, because no matter what character I play, I am the one portraying that character. What I bring to the character is all of me, all the tools I have utilizing my mind, body, and soul.
As an actor, I dive deeply into my characters with great respect for them, because I am representing them. I am sharing these characters with an audience. Elements of my characters and my portrayals of them might resonate with specific audiences and hit home. That is how acting is a means of representing humanity, by focusing on a character and a narrative, and proving how that uniqueness can resonate and be compared to so many people and their own narratives.
My experience and training as an actor have completely improved my abilities for communicating and connecting. Being an actor is being a storyteller, an artistic way to share a narrative. Being an actor has made me better at creating content, filmmaking, directing, writing, producing, hosting and MC’ing.
How would you say your work as a producer and in theater has influenced your work as an actor?
My work in theatre makes me bolder. In live theatre I must trust in the moment, be prepared and then just play. There is a bravery to working in theatre – my most powerful performances are when I am most sensitive and vulnerable, which is exactly where my greatest strength comes from.
Theatre requires preparedness and then letting all of that go and trusting in the moment. It is Jazz – it is free play.
My work producing my own original content has influenced my work as an actor, as it made me even more aware of the business of this industry. Treating acting as a business and not just an art form enhances the longevity of a career.
Also, I am not the type of person who just waits for someone to create an opportunity for me. I will produce and create my own opportunities and do so for others, as well.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about your Man On The Street content– how did you come up with the idea for this?
Public performances have always appealed to me. Guerilla Theatre, which is theatre for an audience that did not expect to be an audience, is a thrilling challenge as it includes the extra endeavor to captivate people in a moment when they had not planned to observe and be engaged.
I then took this to the next level as I also create content that not only engages with an audience but engages with people to collaborate creatively in the moment. Guerilla Filmmaking – like in my film series “One Actor Short,” or my other series like “Pranks of Kindness,” and film shorts like “Immigrant on the Subway.”
My work as a host and interviewer follows this style of focusing the camera on others, putting the spotlight on them. Interviewing and engaging with people in public places, such as on the street, allows me to connect and converse with an array of people, and then share their opinions and stories with an audience. This is the case with myman-on-the street contentsuch as “Better World,” “What Makes You Beautiful,” “What Are You Good At,” “What Makes A New Yorker” and other NY-centric films, “Importance of Advocating” and other LGBTQ related short films, among an ever-growing list of content I create.
I came up with this film series because I want to “entertain, uplift, and inspire” the people I interact with and the audiences who absorb my content. I want to prove how everyone is special and unique and how everyone is similar. It is an artistic form of advocacy and representation.
You are no stranger to improv and randomly stumbling upon people on the street thanks to your work on shows like What Would You Do? Did you borrow inspiration from any of these works?
Improv is part of everything I do as an actor, director, host, MC, and content creator. “Being in the moment” and the “yes, and” philosophies of improv require listening, responding, and acceptance. Every improv-based experience I have had makes all of my other work better.
“What Would You Do” required improv-ing with people who did not know I was an actor. That was a very fun acting experience and improv challenge, because I was aware of the production elements, including the director, producers, camera and microphone placement, all while connecting with the marks, the people who entered the scenarios.
And, I studied and performed at improv-based centers including UCB, the Groundlings, The PIT, and Magnet. My experiences there also refined my skills.
So, yes, every performance and creative experience I have enhances and inspires me, as I love this work and keep desiring to do it.
Did you always intend to approach this content from more of a human perspective, trying to educate more than “entertain,” so to speak?
My main creative mantra is to “entertain, uplift, and inspire.” I am an artist who aims to entertain and educate at the same time. Art is an educational tool.
What’s usually your writing process? How scripted do these series tend to be?
My writing process definitely is character driven and incorporates improvisation. I imagine the scene and how it will play out with a focus on character development.
Some of my series are scripted, and some are based on a concept and then provide space for improvisation.
What would you call the most challenging aspect of doing these series?
The creative challenge is something that I very much embrace. I compare challenges to standing in the ocean. When a wave comes, you can brace yourself and try to fight it, and that wave might knock you down and tumble you. Or, you can dive beneath the wave and emerge on the other side. Or, you can jump to reach the height of the wave. Or, you can surf the wave. The approach to a challenge is your decision and shapes how exciting and victorious the experience will be.
It can sometimes be challenging to get random strangers to commit and participate in my content. So, I made that part of the content. I incorporate that into the content, such as with the roaming interviews I do, the man-on-the-street content, the “One Actor Short” series, the “Public Improv Experiment,” and virtually any of my content created in public.
A film production challenge I often face is also in the editing. How do I edit the content I capture, especially of people who do not have any experience in front of a camera, and still make them shine? The art is in the directing and editing. Editing this type of content can be challenging, and the post-production work makes me better as a filmmaker, director, and producer. And, it makes be better at directing and working with my editors. It especially makes us think-outside-the-box, break common-trends, and think creatively.
As an actor, I have always loved acting challenges. I dive deeply into the challenges and have the most powerful discoveries in them. The most compelling acting moments for me emerge from the challenges, from exploring the vulnerability, sensitivity, and permeability of the character.
Speaking of challenging, how has the recent outbreak affected these series?
The current Coronavirus pandemic has affected a lot of what I do. I had plans to film more content – that has all been halted due to the important need for social distancing, isolating and quarantining. Nonetheless, I am working on creating from home. And, I am creating new content looking at these limitations as guidelines.
My films, especially the “One Actor Short” film series, has been accepted into film festivals. Most of those film festivals have been cancelled or postponed due to the global pandemic and the need for social distancing. Some of those festivals have gone online. And, I have had some great responses to my content, including award wins! So, that is super-exciting.
And, because of the festivals and other screenings beingcancelled, I decided to release more of my content on my YouTube channel, YouTube.com/YuvalDavid. So, please do check it out and subscribe! I am passionate about the content I create and want to share it with others.
Has there been any light at the end of the tunnel yet?
There always is a light at the end of the tunnel, there always is a silver-lining, and as my grandmother used to say (and I translate), “after the cloud passes the sun will shine.”
The light at the end of the tunnel is in hopefulness, resilience, longevity, excitement, passion, and creativity…it is in relying on that to keep moving forward.
The light at the end of the tunnel is in every career and life success, in every goal reached and in every goal attempted. It is in the journey continuing and being shared with others.
The light at the end of the tunnel is in every person who resonates with the work I do, who watches my films and theatrical productions, who subscribes and follows my YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook Page, and who shares my content with others.
What else is happening next in your world?
Currently, I am recording voice overs from home for narration and animation. I also was cast in leading roles in a few new films (so we are waiting for when people can congregate again in order to know when filming can begin). And, I am currently in post-production for a feature film I am directing.
I also am the host of a new production, which for now they are working on having me film from home. And, I am developing new projects, along my mantra to “consistently create compelling collaborative content.” I like the alliteration.
Also, I am strategizing the release and distribution of my films and web-series online, of which you can see on my YouTube channel. Subscribe for free to be “entertained, uplifted, and inspired” at YouTube.com/YuvalDavid!